If you squint just right, Brian Rolle looks kind of like Seth Joyner. They are both linebackers and wear No. 59. If someone had left Joyner in the clothes dryer on the Extra Hot setting for a couple of years, Rolle might be the result.

The resemblance was certainly striking as Rolle stripped the football from Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte late in the first half of Monday night's game. Rolle picked the ball up and ran down the sideline, hurtling into the end zone for his first career touchdown.

It was a Joyner type of play, and it ended just a few yards from where Joyner, a bunch of his teammates and former coach Buddy Ryan were waiting for their halftime introductions.

A linebacker making a game-changing play? This was a more fitting homage to the overly romanticized Ryan years than anything else the Eagles had planned for the evening.

But then, these current Eagles are more like a Ryan team than any other squad fielded under Andy Reid. There are big talents all over the place. There are larger-than-life personalities. There is a kind of bravado that may or may not prove justified. There are astonishing plays sprinkled into the mix. The games are almost always entertaining.

And yet, you somehow can't help feeling that something vital is missing.

The Eagles had several chances to put the Bears away. They scored a defensive touchdown but gave up an easy score after DeSean Jackson fumbled away a punt. They forced Forte to fumble again, scored a quick TD, but then allowed the Bears to dominate the fourth quarter. They had a chance to seize field position, but Reid decided his rookie punter should throw a doomed pass instead.

Where is John Teltschik when you need him?

And then, finally, the Eagles had the ball with a chance to win the game in the final minutes. Instead, Jeremy Maclin fell short of the marker on fourth down, and the game was lost.

Falling short. It was the theme of the evening.

It's funny that people seem to remember the excitement and the entertainment and the attitude of the Ryan years rather than the disappointment. If you think the near misses of the Reid era were frustrating, they were nothing compared to watching Ryan's talent-laden teams lose in the first round three years in a row.

Just as Reid has had blind spots - wide receiver for years, linebacker all along, safety lately - Ryan seemed incapable of taking his offensive line seriously. Just as Michael Vick can turn a doomed play into a big gain, Randall Cunningham overcame the lack of a true offensive system with his singular talents.

And there was that gambling defense, capable of giving up big plays and making them in equal measure. Sure, Forte ran all over the Eagles in the early going. And sure, Jay Cutler picked that overhyped secondary apart for a while. And sure, there were a couple of killer penalties that kept Chicago drives alive.

But there was Rolle, a late-round draft pick from Ohio State, churning his choppy legs, rumbling toward the end zone. The crowd ate it up. A defensive touchdown is so much more satisfying to Eagles fans than one scored on offense or special teams. It just is. Ryan coached his defensive players to believe they should be able to win games by themselves: shut out the opponent, run back and interception and give the offense a dirty look on the way to the locker room.

That's one reason fans idealize the Ryan years. The coach's braggadocio was another. His first year, 1986, he promised to sweep the eight division games. He finished 1-6-1 against the NFC East. He mocked coaches who thought it was enough to win 10 or 11 games and go to the playoffs, then became exactly that kind of coach.

So when Ryan told reporters he would have won "five or six" Super Bowls if he'd coached under Jeff Lurie instead of Norman Braman? It was vintage stuff, entertaining and charming unless you're actually counting on a championship.

Reid isn't much for that kind of bluster, which was what made the whole "Dream Team" thing so strange this summer. The big talk was coming from players as the Eagles assembled at Lehigh, not Reid. But there was that same sense the Eagles just had too much talent, too much swagger, not to succeed.

They started the season Super Bowl or bust. Now, at 3-5, they'd have to go 7-1 to get to double-digit wins and sneak into the playoffs.

If you forgot (or wondered) how those Ryan teams could be so much fun and have so much talent and ultimately fall so short, you only had to squint your eyes during Monday's game. It all looked and felt awfully familiar.